Choosing an appropriate BI tool for your business can be very difficult and time consuming. In order to avoid such constraints, we have outlined some important points to look into when deciding the right BI tool:
1. Your BI Use Cases
Before selecting a BI tool, do ask yourself some important questions like, what are the key reports you’re looking at?
- Do you require high-level, pretty visualizations, or a comprehensive data extractions, or both?
- Are your reports complex or simple summarization?
- What are some of the features you require: daily email reports, email alert, embedded dashboards, self-serve, pivot table?
Below are some common features that are available in the market. Do check if any of these features match your use-case:
- Data Visualizations:
- Filtering & drilldown: ability to filter a report by different custom value, or drill-down into detailed-report from a high-level report.
- Pivot Table: ability to build a report from a list of dimensions and metrics
- Scheduled Email: ability to schedule a report and email it to a group of recipients. Useful for sending daily status email to management.
- Email Alert: ability to send alerts via email, slack or message when there are sudden changes or out of the normal behaviour in your data (e.g. daily sales have dropped by 20%).
Some vendors may be better than others in some aspect. For example Tableau is the industry-leading visualizations, whereas Holistics are great for detailed-level operational data.
From our experience, scheduled email is an important feature, especially when some business users prefer getting their data delivered to them daily instead of having to login to another system (think: CEO getting sitrep report delivered to his desk every morning).
2. Data Stores & Data Ownership
Do you already have a database for reporting or warehousing purposes, or would you prefer the software doing it for you?
Some BI tools load your existing database data into their software and generates reports from there, thus this saves you time from setting up your own data infrastructure.
This works great if your data is small and fragmented. But as your data keeps increasing, the cost incurred will also increase. Since your data is stored within the BI tool, hence you’re limited to the functionality provided by the tool.
The above made sense many years ago when data warehouse was expensive to set up (a data warehouse license could go up to $100k/year per core). But with time, cost of building these data warehouse has decreased with the arrival of Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery or Hadoop ecosystem. Companies are also setting up their own data infrastructure as they grow.
Moving to your own data warehouse has its benefits. You are no longer committed to a particular BI vendor, and you can set up several different tools at the same time to suit your needs (see point 1 above). Your data scientist can also write code directly to your data warehouse to build model.
Comparison table of 2 different approaches:
3. Report Creation Process
Who will be the ones preparing these reports? Are they technically capable (i.e. can write Excel macros/SQL queries) or non-technical (i.e. prefer drag and drop interface)?
Some users prefer a drag-and-drop interface to build reports. These are fast and convenient, especially when your data is properly extracted and formatted. However, it will fall short and become difficult when your data is unclean, and are not properly formatted.
This is why some other technical users prefer a more fine-grained way of preparing the report, where they can write SQL query to extract data.
SQL is the de-facto language when it comes to working with data. With an SQL server, you can output reports in any format and from there, you can do what you want with it (pivot tables, analyze charts, etc).
Other technical users prefer to be more in control of the data they extract.
Comparison table between technical users and non-technical users:
With Holistics, you are able to enjoy all of the features mentioned above. Here at Holistics we are always available to provide you with information to understand the full services we provide. To start your free subscription with Holistics, we are offering free private consulting sessions! Sign up now!
If you have any questions, or need further understanding on a certain point, do write your questions in the comment section below and one of our expert team members will be more than happy to answer any of your questions.
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"Holistics is the solution to the increasingly many and complex data requests from the operational teams"
Tang Yee Jie
Senior Data Analyst, Grab